In the fall of 1902, great and wonderful changes were taking place at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Up until then, the school had been exclusively male, but the newly elected University president, Dr. Guy Potter Benton, felt strongly about gender equality in higher education. Dr. Benton made one of his very first acts the full admittance of female students. Six of the newly admitted female students were not content to merely study at Miami, but to also take part in the school’s wonderful tradition of Greek letter organizations, which earned Miami the reputation as “Mother of Fraternities.” Against much opposition from the male student body, these six friends worked under the guidance of Dr. Benton himself, to found on October 24, 1902, Miami University’s first sorority: Delta Zeta.
Since its founding over 110 years ago, Delta Zeta has grown from a gathering of six friends to an international sorority composed of 165 active chapters, over 10,000 undergraduate members, and more than 234,000 lifetime initiates. The tenacity and determination of the founders are traits that have been found throughout the generations of Delta Zeta women, which is why it is no surprise that many have gone on to lead truly noteworthy lives, including Mercedes Bates (first female corporate officer for General Mills Foods), Marti Dodson (lead singer for Saving Jane), Florence Henderson (actress, The Brady Bunch), and Ivy Baker Priest (former United States Treasurer). With Sisters like these, no wonder so many women want to wear the Delta Zeta Rose and Green.
The ladies of Delta Zeta have always held philanthropic service in high esteem, and have regularly done their part by supporting the speech and hearing impaired. Through campus events, such as the “Turtle Tug,” a tug-of-war contest between sororities and fraternities, Delta Zeta has been very successful in raising funds to support schools for the deaf, such as Gallaudet University, and programs like House Ear Institute, which is dedicated to advancing hearing science through research and education. The Sisters also support The Painted Turtle, a camp whose mission is to provide a year-round, life-changing environment and camp experience for children with chronic or life-threatening illness. Without The Painted Turtle and the charitable support of Delta Zeta, most of these children would never have this amazing experience that inspires them to reach beyond their illness, and provides care, education, and respite for their families, completely free-of-charge.
The world is greatly changed since 1902, but the purpose of Delta Zeta has remained the same, uniting its members in the bonds of sincere and lasting friendship, encouraging the pursuit of knowledge, promoting the moral and social culture of its members, and developing plans for guidance and unity in action. The women of Delta Zeta live their lives guided by these principles, not just for a few years during college, but for their entire lives. Through their upright and charitable example, their campuses, workplaces, and the world entire are better places for all of us to live.